The politics of alcohol

A history of the drink question in England

Author: James Nicholls

Questions about drink — how it is used, how it should be regulated, and the social risks it presents — have been a source of sustained and heated dispute in recent years. This book puts these concerns in historical context by providing a detailed and extensive survey of public debates on alcohol from the introduction of licensing in the mid-sixteenth century through to recent controversies over 24-hour licensing, binge drinking, and the cheap sale of alcohol in supermarkets. In doing so, it shows that concerns over drinking have always been tied to broader questions about national identity, individual freedom, and the relationship between government and the market. The book argues that in order to properly understand the cultural status of alcohol, we need to consider what attitudes to drinking tell us about the principles that underpin our modern, liberal society. It presents a wide-ranging guide to the social, political, and cultural history of alcohol in England, covering areas including law, public policy, medical thought, media representations, and political philosophy.

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